Copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale
We just completed our annual ski trip to Vail, Colorado. We drove out from Southern California with Zach and met up with Chad in Vail, who came up from Denver. Drive out through California, Nevada, Utah and then into Colorado was breath taking as usual, but no stopping on the way for photographs. What I have noted over the years is that the places I would be interested in stopping to photograph there are no safe or easily accessible passage ways. Drive back was equally beautiful, but different weather conditions; overcast, drizzly and sometime snow-showers, but all the hills were turning green due to the recent rain.
This year with the increased snow, the skiing was just about perfect; clear blue sky (makes it much easier to see the bumps on the hill with the yellow tint googles), temperature in the high 30’s (F), and no wind. We skied out legs off! Regretfully at the end of the week I started hot-dogging and now have a colorful bruised hip to show for it.
Photo above was on the slopes of Vail, while below is Gore Creek that flows through Vail, below that was during the drive we took to ski at Copper Mountain one day, them skiing at Vail and finally a view out our window of our place. Really nice change from Southern California, as we came to visit the snow, not to stay.
San Clemente, CA 2017 copyright Douglas Stockdale
So my latest experiment-fun that I have been playing around with is photographing the ocean, surf & sky when I happen to be driving near and subsequently posting on Instagram (@douglasstockdale) as my Weather & Surf Report. As you might imagine, we live close by and my daughter lives even closer, so this becomes a frequently opportunity, especially when I need to drop off someone at the San Clement train station which is just yards away from this ocean beach. I enjoy watching the surf, the smell of the salt air, and the various sounds of the surf and beach, but I was not really drawn to photograph it until recently. Not sure that I want to do a long exposure or in black & white, but perhaps documenting this natural landscape (while the local coastal train zooms by behind me) in color.
I have not been that consistent in my framing, but experimenting with options; leaning towards a lot more atmospheric sky than the ocean & beach.
See what develops, eh? Meantime, having some fun.
Trabuco Canyon I, copyright 2017 Douglas Stockdale
Between the recent rain storms in Southern California, we decided to take a short walk (yeah, not really a hike) through part of the Trabuco Canyon we live adjacent to. Must admit, I am still drawn to the irregular shapes of what we call the lazy Sycamore trees that are found in this canyon. The jumble of spaces, lines, textures and masses are really visually interesting to me, so I decided to have some experimental-fun with this landscape (again). I also could not help working on a variety of framing and presentations; full frame, square (Instagram posting), rectangle, color, black & white, straight, interpretative, layering of effects. Since I no longer consider myself a nature landscape photographer, I did not feel like it was necessary to have a particular “artistic” visual style, but just to experiment and have some photographic fun.
And I have ;- )
Untitled (Middle Ground) copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
Something that has not really captured my attention for some time is working with video. I am of that generation in which movies were made with super-8mm film, a real bear to edit (actually had to physically splice the film together) and trying to add sound was an actual nightmare. To do movies right also meant investing in 16mm equipment, so still photograph made life so much easier. Even when I purchased the Canon 5DMk3, which has professional HD video capabilities, I did not even read the manual on how to use this feature until very recently (yes, like over this last New Years holiday while I was sicker than a dog).
So what prompted this wild & crazy idea? While photographing the Middle Ground project, I came up with the idea of doing a video of the same freeway urban landscape that I was looking at as I did the slow pokey drive in the bumper to bumper traffic. What might that urban landscape look like as a video, as I had no idea. The idea is that the video would complement an exhibition of the still photographs to provide another visual alternative to this same project. This is in addition to photographing this landscape project with my Hasselblad (still have not purchased the 50mm CF Distagon yet), which I wrote about here.
I knew that my daughter’s brother-in-law Cameron has a sound studio in Santa Ana, but I had not realized the amount of video that he has also worked with until we started talking about it over the holidays. The reason I even brought it up with him is that Kevin, a good friend of mine, has been playing piano for many, many years and while listening to his CD it occurred to me think that this might provide a nice background sound track to my video, which it turns out, Kevin was game for. So I was primarily asking Cameron about his ability to add this sound track to my video. No problem! I then received a interesting mini-lesson in video and what I could do with my 5DMk3, which then prompted me to want to actually read the manual ;- )
2016 was my year to try Instagram and 2017 may be my year to try video. Who knew?
untitled (Middle Ground), copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
While working on my current project, Middle Ground, I have thinking that I might want to consider using my Hasselblad and start shooting this with color film in 2017. The biggest issue is that I do not have an equivalent Hasselblad lens for the digital gear I am currently using. I have decided to work with a wide field of view for this project, selecting a 28mm focal length and field of view using my Canon 5DMk3 and the 24-105mm lens (a little scotch tape does a pretty good job of locking down the lens at the focal length that I want). Yes I could also purchase a 28mm prime lens for the Canon, but I am also a bit cheap and this works pretty well.
The closest thing for the Hasselblad is the 50mm f/4 Distagon lens and using a 1.6 factor, this lens can provide about a 31mm equivalent field of view to my 5DMk3/24-105mm. So I taped the 24-105mm lens at what is about 31mm tested it on a drive to San Diego. Part of the drive I also locked (taped) the the lens at 35mm to compare (the 60mm Distagon is about 38mm field of view equivalent). The 31mm was not too bad, but the 35mm started to tighten the pictorial framing of what I want to capture a little too much, thus confirming that an investment in a Hasselblad 50mm Distagon should work. It would be nice to borrow a 50mm Distagon to try out, but my buddies near-by do not have this lens to lend. darn.
Since I will be acquiring a used lens, which of the four different 50mm Distagon models to look for? I think that the CF will do the trick for me, a bit newer and better (lens coating) than the original C model and as I am not focusing close-up the later FLE (Floating lens element) model is probably not necessary (and save me some extra bucks as well).
So the lens hunt is now on!
Santa Fe, Berger Street, 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
I was intrigued with one photograph I made of the gate into the courtyard at our rental house in Santa Fe. It reminded me of what a portal might appear like, which in this case could be a potential portal into the past. To enhance that potential visual metaphor, I tweaked the image with some of the Snapseed effects.
I think that this photograph relates to one of creative photographic idea generators found in The Photographer’s Playbook as explained by Brian Finke; Trust the Gut (pg 108). The need to make photographs should come from one’s self, to channel your feelings into your work, whatever that might be, try to feel it fully and to trust that it will show up in your photographs.
Finke’s exercise maybe as close as anyone’s in The Photographer’s Playbook that approaches my idea of Experiment-fun as to playing with a camera just to see what might happen. Then trust your gut that the resulting photographs are channeling your feelings.
Living Santa Fe portfolio 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
As I wrote earlier about our recent Thanksgiving in Santa Fe, we had rented a house for this long weekend that exhibited all of the Santa Fe charm you could wish for. I found myself photographing this home’s interior and exterior landscape and on return, created this mini-portfolio.
This is also a variation of one of creative photographic idea generators found in The Photographer’s Playbook as explained by Todd Hido, sub-titled Exposure Yourself (pg 149). Essentially exposure yourself to a different environment by going for at least two nights to someplace you normally don’t go. Leave yourself open to spontaneity; no plans to meet anyone or anything set in stone, perhaps with the exception of when and how you are going to return home. And need to take lots and lots of pictures of whatever grabs your interest. In this case while we walking Santa Fe, I also focused on the home we were staying at (very different from Southern California) as representative of how one might live in Santa Fe.
Having read many times how other photographers strongly suggest photographing things at home and that you really don’t have to go far to find a subject, I think that this creativity exercise might help one re-see their own environment. By exposing yourself to a different place, this might refresh your vision for a place where you might have taken too much for granted. For the cheap version of this creativity exercise; ask a neighbor who lives down the street that you do not know very well if you could document their house over the next couple of weeks.
2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
One of the nice aspects of Santa Fe, New Mexico is the relatively small and centralized layout of this early Western town.It is quaint, very picturesque, great food and now has a zillion art galleries, including a couple of photographic galleries; photo-eye and Verve (which regretfully in closing in February 2017) and the photo-eye book store. Also ideal for staying in a place in or adjacent to town (we did a rental house over this past Thanksgiving weekend) and then walking everywhere you want or need; day or night.
This little trip also falls into one of creative photographic idea generators found in The Photographer’s Playbook as explained by Todd Hido, sub-titled Exposure Yourself (pg 149). Essentially exposure yourself to a different environment by going for at least two nights to someplace you normally don’t go (this is our first visit to Sante Fe). Leave yourself open to spontaneity; no plans to meet anyone or anything set in stone (okay, I knew that at some point I was going to the photo-eye bookstore), perhaps with the exception of when and how you are going to return home. And need to take lots and lots of pictures of whatever grabs your interest. This method of Expose Yourself has worked for many photographers over the years to either change things up or reconfirm what they enjoy working on (yes, various aspects of the urban & built landscape continue to interest me).
This creative process is also integral with my experiment-fun methodology; all the photographs in the mini-portfolio are hand-held using my Samsung camera phone, then processed with Snapseed for immediate uploading on Instagram (@douglasstockdale). The mini-portfolio below has now been additionally tweaked with Photoshop now that I am back to my home-studio. Although I know I need to make multiple exposures for my night images to try & ensure I did not have a shaky image, the night photographs did not necessarily turn out as well as expected. Still, in keeping with my game plan, I had a lot of fun.
By the way, no accident that I included the Clafoutis Bakery in this mini-portfolio; an excellent french breakfast & pastries, which is a nice change from the spicy New Mexican foods of Santa Fe.
Btw, this is a re-post of a previous post because I really goofed it up the first time (that’s another story). Sorry about that!
The Walking Santa Fe mini-portfolio
Denver 2016 copyright Douglas Stockdale
I found this to be an interesting urban landscape while we were walking a little bit of Denver (Colorado) this past week.. The Fall colors in conjunction with most of the leaves now laying on the ground, that in turn reveal the older house that was probably hiding behind the shrubs and trees has metaphoric potential. Part and parcel with my current photographic philosophy of experiment-play and it is unknown to me what might evolve from this. That is the fun part, who knows?
Night Light copyright 2016 Douglas Stockdale
On our first evening in Denver last week there were some remnants of snow still on the ground, which I found intriguing. I started playing with some cast light patterns created by a residential nightlight (these were solar powered units; the light was not that strong and had an interesting color cast associated with it). My first experiments resulted in the photograph below and later that night I returned to capture the image above, which became a bit more abstract.
Both are singular images as I don’t anticipate any particular photographic project coming from this, but one of these photographs might be used for something later on. Who knows. This is just part of my current practice of experimental-play with the camera-phone, who knows what free-association ideas this process might generate, while still being fun to do.